Forest and Crag

A History of Hiking, Trail Blazing, and Adventure in the Northeast Mountains, Thirtieth Anniversary Edition

By Laura Waterman & Guy Waterman

Subjects: New York/regional, Environmental Studies, American History, Sports And Society, Ecology
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438475301, 978 pages, March 2019

Alternative formats available from:

A compelling story of our ever-evolving relationship with mountains and wilderness.


Thirty years after its initial publication, this beloved classic is back in print. Superbly researched and written, Forest and Crag is the definitive history of our love affair with the mountains of the Northeastern United States, from the Catskills and the Adirondacks of New York to the Green Mountains of Vermont, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and the mountains of Maine. It's all here in one comprehensive volume: the struggles of early pioneers in America's first frontier wilderness; the first ascent of every major peak in the Northeast; the building of the trail networks, including the Appalachian Trail; the golden era of the summit resort hotels; and the unforeseen consequences of the backpacking boom of the 1970s and 80s. Laura and Guy Waterman spent a decade researching and writing Forest and Crag, and in it they draw together widely scattered sources. What emerges is a compelling story of our ever-evolving relationship with the mountains and wilderness, a story that will fascinate historians, outdoor enthusiasts, and armchair adventurers alike.

Laura Waterman and Guy Waterman (1932–2000) volunteered for the United States Forest Service and for hiking and conservation organizations, maintaining the Franconia Ridge Loop for almost two decades. They were awarded the American Alpine Club's 2012 David R. Brower Award for outstanding service in mountain conservation, and the Waterman Fund to preserve wildness and service the alpine areas across the Northeast was established in 2000. Laura and Guy wrote numerous articles and books on the outdoors, including The Green Guide to Low-Impact Hiking and Camping, Wilderness Ethics: Preserving the Spirit of Wildness, and Yankee Rock & Ice: A History of Climbing in the Northeastern United States. Laura's memoir, Losing the Garden: The Story of a Marriage, recounts their thirty years of homesteading.


"The Watermans' passion for the subject matter … is evident from their impressive research, their good, clear writing and their frequent flashes of humor. " — Adirondack Explorer

"Just like a good map is essential equipment for any backcountry adventure, Forest and Crag is an essential read for anyone who enjoys spending time in or is charged with the stewardship of the Northeast's trails and mountains. " — Michael DeBonis, Executive Director, Green Mountain Club

"Forest and Crag stands as the most important history of Northeastern mountain exploration. I marvel at the depth of the Watermans' exhaustive research and the skill in which they synthesized it. Anyone who cares about and writes about mountains laps up these chapters regularly. I reach for this book all the time. The added photographs and prefaces make this new edition from SUNY even better. " — Christine Woodside, editor of Appalachia Journal and author of Libertarians on the Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Making of the Little House Books

"No other volume weaves together across landscapes and time both the individual stories and broad themes of the history of hiking in the Northeast. It is not, however, its breadth and depth which makes Forest and Crag unique. Rather, it is the Watermans' gift for storytelling which makes the reader feel that he or she has been invited to pull up a chair and listen, spellbound, to two masters of their craft. In sharing the stories of those who came to the mountains before, the Watermans invite all to join in preserving the future of these iconic landscapes. " — Julia Goren, Education Director and Summit Steward Coordinator, Adirondack Mountain Club

"This is a superb, monumental history. The Watermans are adept at the capsule profile, whether of peaks or persons. A gallery of characters unrolls, as diverse as those in a novel by Dickens. " — Paul Jamieson, former editor, The Adirondack Reader

"Written with grace, style, and good humor, seasoned with a refreshing sense of wonder, Forest and Crag reads more like a gripping novel than the serious research work it really is. " — Magnetic North

"In its quality, comprehensiveness, and regional orientation, Forest and Crag is unprecedented in American letters. It will become a classic in social, intellectual, and environmental history. " — Roderick Frazier Nash, author of Wilderness and the American Mind, Fifth Edition

"Forest and Crag presents an incredible gift for today's hikers—the opportunity to take a thoughtful and vigorous ramble into the past, and to explore the Northeastern mountains of yesteryear. What an adventure—and what better way to contemplate how we shape the region's future?" — Peter Crane, Mount Washington Observatory

"Forest and Crag traces the Northeast's human and natural history by following the hiking experience from the early adventurers to the more recent development of an environmental ethic. The Watermans tell this story with clear respect and deep joy for the mountains that shaped the stories of the region's hikers and hiking clubs. " — Mary Margaret Sloan, Chief Operating Officer, Positive Tracks

"The Watermans' true genius is their ability to string all the facts together in a narrative so lively that even the footnotes and endnotes are read as eagerly as one would devour dessert at the end of a good meal. " — Tony Goodwin, coeditor of High Peaks Trails, 14th Edition